There was a mix-up with the CSA delivery last week, and somehow dozens of flats of cherries were suddenly free for the taking. I came staggering home under the weight of a huge bagful, to split with my downstairs neighbor and CSA share-partner, Amy. I was toying with the idea of making a few pints of brandied cherries, but the next day Amy got invited to another Amy's birthday potluck picnic in Empire Fulton Park (same place as the recent mulberry-picking reported here), so instead I dug out my cherry pitter and we made two pans of sweet cherry cobbler.
Amy, new to the joys of cherry pitting, was an instant convert, and really didn't want to give up the pitter for a minute, even after pitting at least 4 or 5 pounds. Listening to Johnny Cash and early Elvis as huge black storm clouds suddenly piled up outside, we tossed the cherries with lemon juice, sugar, and a few drops of almond extract, then topped them with a buttery biscuit dough as a huge Noah's-Ark-worthy deluge teemed down. No thickening in with the fruit, which made for a slightly runny filling (although it did thicken somewhat as it cooled). But the pure cherry juice was so ruby-red and delicious, no one minded spooning it up. As we put the pans in the oven, we mused that they would have been even more fantastic with almonds added to the biscuit dough, so that's the variation I've listed here. By the time the cobblers were done, the storm was over, the sun was out and the skies were blue.
Photo to follow!
Cobble Hill Cherry Almond Cobbler
5 cups pitted sweet cherries (at least 2 lbs, with extra to snack on as you pit)
3 TB sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
a few drops (up to 1/4 tsp) of almond extract or a good sprinkle of Amaretto liqueur
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
6 TB butter, frozen in one piece
1/3 cups sliced almonds, lightly toasted
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
a few drops almond extract
glaze: 1 egg yolk + 2 tsp water
Toss cherries, sugar, lemon, and almond extract in a square 8 x 8 pan (or whatever shape you like, but roughly that size, so you can make 2 layers of cherries), preferably glass or ceramic. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Using the big holes of a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mix (a great trick from David Lebovitz's wonderful fruit dessert book, Ripe For Dessert). Add toasted almonds and toss together. Add 1/2 the buttermilk and extracts. Stir lightly, then add additional buttermilk to made a soft dough. Dollop biscuit dough over fruit. If desired, brush with egg glaze and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 until cherries are bubbling and biscuit dough is golden brown and cooked through. Let cool to lukewarm, then serve with vanilla ice cream.